SWP: Central Committee motion to Special Conference
All the CC has to offer delegates on March 10 is the same old self-justifications
Eternal repetition of the same
Followers of the crisis in the Socialist Workers Party will find this, the motion its Central Committee is to put to the forthcoming special conference, drearily familiar reading. In fact, there is almost nothing new in any of the numbingly repetitive motions and statements these bureaucrats come out with.
That they are sticking to this approach tells us two things: firstly, while the CC is keen to arrogate itself absolute authority, there is no chance of it taking responsibility for the disasters that result from its blundering use of that authority; and secondly, that there is little to no chance of any compromise being reached between the opposing camps in the SWP.
CC motion to special conference 10 March 2013
1) The Socialist Workers Party stands out on the left by the fact that it has a history of genuine democratic debate without permanent factionalism. We have developed democratic and accountable structures from our branches, elected district committees, the national committee and disputes committee, central committee, party councils and conference. In the recent period these structures were re-examined and strengthened by the work of the SWP democracy commission. We have full confidence in these structures and the method of democratic centralism.
2) This Special Conference notes that the commission on “What sort of party do we need?” that set out the democratic principles guiding our current practice was approved by 239 votes to 91 by annual conference in January 2013.
3) At the core of democratic centralism lies the understanding that we have full and honest debate among comrades in order to reach decisions followed by united action to implement and argue for those decisions.
4) We therefore condemn the actions of those members who have circumvented these principles by campaigning to overturn conference decisions outside the structures of the party, using blogs and the bourgeois media. Many of these contributions have been characterised by the use of slurs, abuse and un-comradely language that seem designed to stop serious debate and make joint work impossible, as well as damaging the party’s reputation.
5) The debates inside the party have been fuelled by the outcome of the Disputes Committee report to conference. This Special Conference affirms its belief in the integrity of the comrades on the DC and of the investigation they conducted. We note the DC was re-elected without challenge at the January 2013 conference. The DC report was approved by conference and the case concerned must be regarded as closed. This means that both comrades involved in the case are members in good standing, with the right to engage in political activity as party members.
6) This Special Conference notes that immediately following the original DC hearing of this particular case, information about it was leaked to people, some hostile, outside the party. This helped fuel rumours and misinformation about the DC within the party. This Special Conference also notes the disgraceful covert recording of the DC session at conference and the appearance of a transcript on a site hostile to the party, in addition to the reports and debates in public blogs and internet forums regarding these internal party arguments.
7) This has created difficulties for any future DC hearing. Therefore it is in this light that this Special Conference thinks it sensible to consider these issues, in particular:
- How the future confidentiality of DC proceedings can be safeguarded
- How future findings of the DC should be reported to the party
Examining these issues would also provide an opportunity to clarify our disciplinary procedures more generally and propose changes to these procedures where necessary. This should be the responsibility of a committee composed of the four members elected from the National Committee at its last meeting, four members elected from this special conference, two from the Disputes Committee and one from the Central Committee. This committee will report to a subsequent meeting of the NC, which will draw up proposals to be put to the next Annual Conference.
8) This Special Conference regrets the fact that, following the NC meeting at the beginning of February, some comrades decided to form a faction specifically around the Disputes Committee case. Their use of a spurious interpretation of the party constitution represented a break with our traditions of democratic debate, which were reaffirmed by the annual conference in January. The Special Conference demands that all factions and “platforms” disband immediately after the conclusion of this conference and instructs party members involved in producing blogs on internal debates such as the “International Socialism” site to take them down immediately after the conclusion of this conference.
9) Student work has always been the lifeblood of the SWP, and the Special Conference expresses its pride in the successes of our student comrades during and after the movement of November-December 2010. But it is clear that our student work has been disoriented by a failure sufficiently to recognise that this phase of the movement has ended and to focus on ideological and political struggle. The debates that have been developed must be pursued patiently and on a political basis. Nevertheless, this Special Conference reaffirms that the Socialist Workers Student Societies are support organisations of the SWP and that student members of the SWP are bound by the decisions of party conference and other leading bodies. The Central Committee has the authority to direct student work, as it has over all areas of party work.
10) We believe that underlying many of the recent debates in and around the party lie a series of vital political questions where we need to seek urgently to assert, develop and win our political tradition. Some of the key debates include:
- The changing nature of the working class.
- Lenin’s conception of the party and its relevance in the 21st century.
- Oppression and capitalism.
- The trade union bureaucracy and the rank and file.
- The radical left, the united front and the SWP.
- The role of students and intellectuals in revolutionary struggle.
- The value of new electronic media in the ideological and organisational work of a revolutionary party.
11) The Special Conference supports the CC and the NC in their strong commitment to leading and facilitating extensive discussion and debate around such issues in every forum of the party. This requires a serious, systematic and urgent effort in all our publications, through branch and district meetings, wider party events such as Marxism and through educationals and day schools.